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How to create accurate storytelling with data

By Amy McCloskey Tobin | November 3, 2022

Since humans first began living in social groups, language has been the thing that made us human – that separated us from all other creatures on earth. Humans use language to tell stories, and we use stories to transfer knowledge. In business, stories help us compete and succeed – stories about what is happening and what can happen. All day, everywhere in the business world, someone is trying to understand what is happening within their business. The answers lie in their data, but data alone cannot tell us what is going on, what the anomalies and outliers are, and how business patterns have changed. If data could speak, it would tell us. The ability to understand data puts accurate storytelling at our fingertips.

Enterprise needs the ability to understand data at scale

Enterprise businesses have a significant amount of data to analyze and understand, and they use business intelligence platforms to do just that. Yet most people also need help understanding the dashboard visuals within those platforms. A National Adult Literacy Survey showed that the average person could “identify information from a bar graph… only 50% of the time.” Adding natural language generation (NLG) to augment those visuals with narratives in plain language doubles the user base that can take information and do something with it. Scaling data understanding is vital for enterprise.

Because data comprehension is vital to business success, the first thing every company should do is set aside money and integrate Arria NLG into what you are doing. It isn’t an additional cost; it is an additional opportunity. ~ Chris Wagner, Principal Data Insights & Analytics Solution, KratosBI

Beyond data understanding, there is so much more that businesses reap with natural language generation. A major software company just invested in rolling out Arria NLG to remove the need for their analysts to spend every Sunday night looking at their dashboards and pulling numbers to create reports for senior management. Now, Arria NLG automates these reports, providing clear natural-language data narratives and freeing analysts to do the important human work they want to do. By scaling data skills across the business, employee retention improves as work becomes more meaningful.

For businesses, data storytelling is better

Humans are powerful storytellers, but humans also bring bias to their stories. Human nature causes us to look for things we are comfortable with, used to, or expect to see.

NLG can tell pure data stories minus human biases. It takes data and transforms it into stories explaining what is happening. Using NLG, NLP (Natural Language Processing), NLU (Natural Language Understanding), and NLQ (Natural Language Queries), data is analyzed and turned into natural-language narratives that are easy to understand. Arria’s technology helps organizations unleash their data to enjoy democratized data comprehension across the business, telling them the data stories they need to hear.

NLG is like having an analyst in a box

The frontline worker doesn’t have a fleet of analysts available to process their data. NLG enables dynamic write-ups that make the data accessible — to everyone. Arria NLG can answer the frontline worker and the C-Suite’s most pressing questions:

  • What happened?
  • Did we have more depreciation?
  • Why was marketing spend higher?
  • When we look at the P & L, why does it look different week over week, month over month, quarter over quarter?

A human can find these answers, but it takes valuable time. Many businesses must make decisions in real-time; for example, Quick Serve Restaurants (QSRs) need their answers now. Businesses struggling with supply chain issues require information for immediate decision-making. NLG gives the executive team in any vertical their answers faster – it’s like having an analyst on demand for any industry.

Where does Arria NLG fit in your information delivery process?

Arria believes NLG should be everywhere. Suppose you are working in Excel, Power BI, or using an RPA tool, in that case, you should be supported with the power of language within the platform your employees are familiar with and comfortable with. You can embed Arria NLG inside any software solution you want to build. Arria Connect – our SDK – puts the power and control in your hands. You don’t have to wait for professional services from Arria.

What is the barrier to implementing NLG?

Lyndsee Manna, Arria EVP of Business Development, has worked with data and enterprise for decades, cutting her teeth as an analyst. When asked why some businesses don’t use NLG, she replies instantly,

“Because they don’t start. We are use-case and industry agnostic – NLG can be used almost anywhere. When decision-makers first encounter the infinite use case for NLG, it can be overwhelming. To begin, you must put one foot in front of the other. Many of our customers start in the most obvious place – their BI platform – where visuals can be augmented with natural language narratives.”

How do you get started?

Go to Arria’s website and download the add-in for a 14-day free trial, or call us at 212-252-2185 to talk about how NLG can help you. We understand there is a proof phase, and we will work with you on that. We can create a custom demo and put together a sample to solve the specific problem that will help yu take your first step to complete data understanding.

This post was inspired by a dynamic conversation between Lyndsee Manna, EVP, Global Business Development & Strategic Partnerships at Arria, and Chris Wagner, Principal Data Insights & Analytics Solution Architect at KratosBI and host of the Data Gods podcast.

Listen to the episode here: